Need a new workout technique? Looking for ways to impress friends with a quirky skill? Want to travel the world? Scott Simpson ’13 may be able to help you out with that.
The 2008 USA Jump Rope Grand National Champion has given up competitive jump roping for now, but, according to a newly released video for the Yale Office of Public Affairs & Communications, he still jumps for joy — and in the most unexpected places, too.
Simpson sat down with the News to discuss his training, the lessons he’s drawn from life as a professional jumper and to explain why he thinks jump rope is the best sport of all.
Q: So tell me about the video that the Yale Office of Public Affairs & Communications released. Do you jump rope through Sterling [Memorial Library] often?
A: No, never. And I don’t really foresee ever jumping rope in any of those places again. It’s funny because it’s not like I keep it a secret, but jumping rope isn’t really something I talk about here. It’s just not part of my identity. But Michael Morand, the Deputy Chief Communications Officer, approached me about doing a video for the website after he saw me perform in a community dance show at the co-op high school.
Q: How did you first get into jumping rope?
A: I started seriously when I was six, which is when I joined a jump roping team from my area called the Kangaroo Kids Precision Jump Rope Team. The head coach was my PE teacher in elementary school. Also, my babysitter was on the team before me and I saw her perform. So I guess technically I’ve been doing it for 16 years.
Q: Do you still compete now?
A: No, the last time I competed was the summer after freshman year of college. That was when I participated in the World Championships. Competing throughout college would have made me miss out on so much that I wanted to do in college because of having to travel so much.
Q: How exactly do competitions work?
A: It’s broken up into two different categories: speed and freestyle. Speed is when you’re given a certain amount of time and you try to get as many jumps in as you can. Freestyle is more about routines involving different tricks and moves you do to get points. For each category, there are further differences, such as relays, single rope or Double Dutch.
Q: Do you consider this a sport?
A: It’s definitely a sport. There’s certainly a giggle factor — imagine me jumping rope in elementary school when everyone else is playing soccer. I was teased a lot about it being a girly sport. But at the end of the day, I was going to nationals and those kids were going to be playing in their community basketball game, so I didn’t worry too much about it.
Q: What sort of lessons did jump roping teach you and what’s your favorite thing about the activity?
A: I’d say teamwork, a strong work ethic, and a lot of leadership. I was one of the oldest people on my team and so I spent a lot of time teaching the younger kids and helping out my coach. It also definitely taught me discipline. When I was still competing as a freshman here, I trained every single day in Payne Whitney. Carving out that time was difficult.
What I like best about it is the creativity that it involves. There’s so much opportunity to invent new things. My specialty was a move called rope releases where you’re jumping and then release one handle and catch it in an unusual way.
Q: The video is called “jump for joy.” Is that accurate? Is joy the reason you jump rope?
A: I definitely get joy out of it. Oftentimes it’s not the personal gratification from the jumping itself, but performing is really gratifying because it allows you to share something you love and have spent so much time practicing with someone else. Even though I’ve largely given it up, I’ll still jump as a workout every now and then. And it’s always something I can go back to.